Nov 03 2018

Your Tax Dollars At Work

Now $200 Million falls in the rounds of a $716 Billion budget but the next time someone spouts off about Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid or heck even funding for Public Broadcasting or the National Endowment for the Arts you should remember that there’s always enough money for meaningless election stunts.

Trump’s border deployments could cost $200 million by year-end
By Paul Sonne, Washinton Post
November 3, 2018

The total price of President Trump’s military deployment to the border, including the cost of National Guard forces that have been there since April, could climb well above $200 million by the end of 2018 and grow significantly if the deployments continue into next year, according to analyst estimates and Pentagon figures.

The deployment of as many as 15,000 troops to the U.S.-Mexico border — potentially equal in size to the U.S. troop presence in Afghanistan — occurs as the budgetary largesse the military has enjoyed since Trump took office looks set to come to an end.

Although the costs of the border deployments will be a tiny slice of a $716 billion annual defense budget, they arrive as the Trump administration is calling on the Pentagon to cut unnecessary expenditures. The White House recently ordered the Pentagon to slash next year’s budget for the military by about $33 billion in response to the largest increase in the federal deficit in six years.

Veterans and Democratic lawmakers have complained that Trump is wasting military dollars in a politically motivated stunt ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, at a time when the Pentagon budget is under pressure.

About 2,000 forces from the National Guard are already there, operating under an order Trump issued in April. Northern Command has said more than 7,000 additional active-duty troops will join them in Arizona, Texas and California. Trump said this week that he will be deploying between 10,000 and 15,000 troops but didn’t make clear whether those figures included the National Guard.

The cost of the National Guard deployment from April 10 through Sept. 30 amounted to $103 million, according to Pentagon figures. The Defense Department expects the Guard deployment to cost an additional $308 million through the end of next September, including the last quarter of 2018, so long as the operations continue apace.

Active-duty forces, which Trump deployed under his recent order, generally are less expensive because they don’t require additional pay or benefits.

Travis Sharp, a research fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budget Assessments, estimated that the cost of deploying 8,000 active-duty troops through mid-December in addition to the Guard would amount to $40 million to $50 million. Should the administration deploy 15,000 active-duty troops, as Trump suggested, the estimated cost would rise to as much as $110 million, Sharp said.

The forces could end up staying past mid-December, depending on the status of the caravans, which by most accounts are still weeks away from the border. An extension of the deployment could result in costs in excess of those estimates.

As of Saturday morning, about 3,500 active-duty service members have been deployed as a part of the mission, dubbed Operation Faithful Patriot, said Maj. Mark Lazane, a Northern Command spokesman. They include about 2,250 in Texas, 1,100 in California and 170 in Arizona, he said.

Democrats have complained that in addition to paying for the border deployments, the Defense Department internally allocated $7.5 million to advanced planning for a 37-mile barrier along the side of a military bombing range in Arizona that abuts the border. Democratic lawmakers said the barrier alone could cost as much as $450 million.

Mattis offered a safety justification for the barrier in testimony to Congress earlier this year, suggesting that any migrants crossing the border through the range could end up hurt. Critics have said the project amounts to a move by the president to build part of the border wall he promised on the campaign trail by tapping military resources.